RSTA: Despite a large fall in the number of vehicle accidents, the number of fatalities on the road was higher in 2014 as compared to the previous year.

There was about 23 percent decrease in vehicle accidents from 1,023 in 2013 to 791 in 2014.

Of these accidents 76 percent or 602 occurred in Thimphu city alone.

Seventy people died in vehicle accidents nationwide last year as compared to 59 in 2013.

There was a sharp decrease in vehicle related injuries last year. Almost 390 people were injured last year as compared to 601 in 2013.

The leading cause of vehicle accidents continues to be human error with 546 cases recorded last year. Examples of human error are careless driving or ignoring traffic rules, among others.

Driving under the influence of alcohol was the second leading cause of accidents with 171 recorded last year. The number of alcohol related accidents has steadily decreased in the past three years with 194 taking place in 2013 and 212 the year before that.

The number of hit and run cases also fell significantly with 89 last year as compared to 168 in 2013.

Accidents caused by speeding and unlicensed driving also continued to drop with 56 and 53 recorded last year.

Most violations continue to happen in Thimphu city. While violations in almost all categories have dropped the leading violation is still using a mobile phone while driving. There were 1,147 such cases in Thimphu last year and 1,516 in 2013.

There were also 455 cases of speeding, 274 cases of unlicensed driving, 247 cases of driving with a learner’s license, and 173 cases of driving under the influence of alcohol registered in Thimphu.

Incidents of double parking actually increased to 175 from 171 in 2013.

A total of Nu 9.3M in fines was collected nationwide with Nu 7.3M in Thimphu alone.

A spokesperson for the traffic police attributed the decrease in accidents and violations to increased awareness programs for the public, and better enforcement.

The introduction of equipment like speed guns and breathalysers in Thimphu was also credited for a drop in speeding and drink driving. The construction of speed breakers on the so called express way was another factor attributed for less incidents occurring there.

While it was pointed out that the traffic police in Thimphu is adequately staffed and equipped, traffic divisions outside the capital also need to be beefed up with equipment like speed guns and breathalysers, according to the spokesperson.

It was also explained that the poor design and engineering of roads needs to be addressed to improve safety.

By Gyalsten K Dorji